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Duo-Queuing Together

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BRRIIIING-BRRIIING-BRRIIING

The school bell rang, and Lin Feng immediately started packing up. He jammed his pencil case and textbooks into his bag as quickly as he could, got up from his desk, and ran to the door. But just before he could step through to freedom, he ran into An Xin. Blocking the door. She was standing right outside the classroom door with her arms crossed. She looked at the startled Lin Feng and smiled. 

“Slow down, Lin Feng. You’ll run straight into someone rushing around like that. Speaking of which… why are you running? And why are you in such a hurry? Planning on meeting up with someone after school? Who is this new friend of yours that you didn’t tell any of us about?” An Xin asked. 

“Mhm! You didn’t mention any plans to me either!” Tang Bingyao added. She was still at her seat in the third row, but all of her attention was on Lin Feng right now. 

Ouyang decided he needed to help Lin Feng out. Well, mostly. He also really wanted to hear what was going on and know who Lin Feng was going to see after school. Especially after he saw Lin Feng messaging in class. He got up from his seat and started to walk over. But was jerked back towards his desk. Yang Fan had grabbed the back of his shirt and yanked him back. Ouyang looked back at Yang Fang, who still had a tight grip on his shirt, and said “Lemme go! Bro Feng needs me!” 

Yang Fan gave Ouyang a serious glare before intensely whispering, “Have you lost your mind completely? You really want to jump into the middle of that? You want me to let you jump into the middle of that?” 

“Wha? Oh! OH! Yeah, no. Maybe not.” Ouyang replied, and then he quietly sat back down in his seat. I dodged a bullet there! I’m a good bro, and I want to be there for Bro Feng… but there’s nothing scarier than two women. Two jealous women. And Bro Feng didn’t ask me before he got himself into this mess! I would’ve told him to be more careful, helped him out. But he decided to do his own thing! So, as a bro, I don’t have any responsibility. What happens to Lin Feng is his own business. I’m staying far, far, far away! This whole thing is his own fault anyway! Who decides to message a third girl in the middle of class when they’ve already got two girls in the same class already? Bro Feng… that man is either a legend or a moron!

“What? Oh! I’m rushing ‘cause I’ve gotta get to the train! Hm… To get to where Fatty is. I’m going to meet up with him today. Hang out for a bit.” Lin Feng said, scratching his head. He didn’t understand what the big deal was or why everyone was so interested in him hanging out with Tian Tian. 

“Fatty?” An Xin asked, surprised.

Lin Feng nodded in high spirits. “Yeah! Fatty! You know, Tian Tian. God Roundy. Fatty! He’s not practicing today and he’s finally got some free time away from the House. So he messaged asking if I wanted to hang out today. I haven’t seen him in forever! Actually, do you wanna come too? You haven’t seen him in a while either, and the three of us haven’t spent time together in ages!”

An Xin was the coach of Lin Feng’s old team, so she was friends with Tian Tian as well.

Ohhh! FATTY! So that’s what’s going on here! An Xin thought. Of course! That makes so much more sense! Where would this clueless moron meet a girl anyway? And he definitely wouldn’t be texting a girl he met in the middle of class! I’m an idiot for even thinking that could be possible. LIN FENG TEXTING A GIRL! That’ll be the day Rake decides to take up a competitive shooting game and give up on League!  Of course he’s texting Tian Tian, this all makes sense now. Then she remembered Lin Feng’s invitation. Those two haven’t seen each other in four years. I should probably let them… But she hesitated for a moment. She wanted to see Tian Tian also. Wanted to hang out together like they did before. Nah. I should let today be just about the two of them and I shouldn’t meddle. We’ll all hang out together in the future! She looked at Lin Feng again and shook her head, “I’d like to come… but this was super sudden. I can’t today, I gotta be home early. But I’ll be there next time! ” An Xin made up a generic reason to excuse herself from the meetup today.

“You don’t want to come? Why not? Wait! Hm… why don’t you want to come? Are you not feeling well? What do you have to do at home that you need to be there early? You can just call them and let them know, they’ll understand! Wait… you don’t look sick.” Lin Feng asked. He couldn’t understand why An Xin didn’t want to spend time with two of her oldest friends. He was always planning to drag her along to meet up with Tian Tian. And he definitely did not buy her excuse that she had to be home early. It just didn’t make sense to him. Then his eyes widened as he experienced a flash of insight. He knew what was going on with An Xin! He slapped his forehead and yelled, “OOOOHHHH! I GET IT NOW! Did old Aunt Flo come to visit you?!”

All the Senior Class 7 students that still hadn’t left immediately looked over in Lin Feng and An Xin’s direction. Shocked.

An Xin froze. She’d known Lin Feng for a long time, and was more than prepared for how clueless he could be most of the time. But every once in a while, he’d pull something out that surprised even her. This was one of those times. She just didn’t know how to react to Lin Feng’s supposed epiphany. And then her face turned red. She took a deep breath and looked straight at Lin Feng. “Hey idiot. Do you want to die!?”

Lin Feng saw An Xin’s face after he asked her about “old Aunt Flo”. He saw her face turn red. And then he heard the venom in her words. He knew, immediately, that he had messed up. He couldn’t think of anything to make the situation better. And he knew better than to say anything more. That would only make the situation worse. He continued to look at An Xin’s furious eyes for a few awkward seconds longer. 

Then he pivoted around and walked over to Tang Bingyao. “Tang Tang, do you want to come meet Fatty?” As far as he was concerned, Tang Bingyao and Fatty were both going to be on his new team. He saw no harm in introducing them to each other sooner rather than later. They’d have more time to get to know each other, and his team would come together that much faster.

Tang Bingyao was the only person other than An Xin in High School 13 who knew anything about Lin Feng’s past. She also knew who Fatty was. KG’s Top Laner and God Roundy, Tian Tian. And she knew that Tian Tian was Lin Feng’s best friend. She also knew that their history was stormy, and this was the first time Lin Feng would be seeing Tian Tian after many years. 

Tang Bingyao tilted her head. She thought about going for a moment. She wanted to meet the God Roundy in person. More importantly, she wanted to meet Lin Feng’s best friend. This isn’t the right time for that. Mhm! She shook her head. “No thanks. I have a lot of homework tonight.”

“Oh… Okay. That’s fine…” Lin Feng replied. He sounded a little dejected and disappointed. This was an exciting day and no one wanted to come with him! But he quickly perked up again. “That’s fine, I’ll go by myself.” It didn’t matter if everyone else was busy. He was going to meet Fatty today, and this was going to be their reunion after four long years! 

Lin Feng and Tian Tian had agreed to meet up in front of an internet cafe. Lin Feng arrived at the designated meetup location first, and waited for Tian Tian outside. After a few minutes, he spotted Tian Tian walking over from across the street. Tian Tain was trying to keep a low profile, and blend in with the crowd. But his large body made that impossible, and his attempts at blending in only made him more conspicuous.

Lin Feng’s face lit up when he saw Tian Tian, and he started waving his arms around wildly. ”Fatty! Fatty! Over here!”

Tian Tian heard Lin Feng and looked around. He saw Lin Feng flapping his arms around everywhere, and his face also lit up with joy. He ran across the crosswalk and sputtered to a stop right in front of Lin Feng. A little out of breath.

“LIIIN FEEEENG!” Tian Tian cried out with the last bit of air in his lungs. Then he had to pause to take a few quick breaths. Once he got his energy back up, he wrapped Lin Feng in a giant bear hug! Then he pulled down his face mask.”I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!” His chubby and ruddy cheeks jiggled with emotion, and tears started welling up in his eyes.

Lin Feng chuckled. “I missed you too, buddy! I miss you too! Hey, you even got fatter!”

“Yeah, haha… I’ve been eating a bit more lately.” Tian Tian laughed, scratching his head in embarrassment. Then he looked Lin Feng up and down and said, ‘“Lin Feng, you’ve gotten taller!”

“Of course! I’m really good at growing up too!” Lin Feng replied.

After a few more minutes of excited small talk, they started trying to figure out what they were going to do today. Lin Feng had a rough plan ready, “Let’s go inside and play a few games together. Then I’ll treat you to dinner! We’ll have a feast!”

“Sure sure sure! That sounds great!” Tian Tian said while nodding excitedly. It didn’t really matter what Lin Feng decided to do today, Tian Tian was always going to agree. It had always been like that between the two of them. Ever since they became teammates years ago. Lin Feng led, and Tian Tian followed. And he was fine with it being that way. It didn’t matter to Tian Tian that he was the older one. Or that people made fun of him for being so easily led around. Following Lin Feng around was something he took pride in! He considered himself lucky to have a friend like Lin Feng who cleared the way for him!

Tian Tian put his face mask back on before he walked into the internet cafe behind Lin Feng. The place was crawling with League players, many of whom followed the competitive scene. He was God Roundy. An LPL legend who had recently played in Worlds. Every single person in this internet cafe could recognize his face instantly. And if they did, they’d start swarming all over him. That would make it difficult to hang out with Lin Feng in peace.

Lin Feng understood the situation with Tian Tian without being told. He did his best to shield Tian Tian from view while they walked through the internet cafe. And then booked some game time for the two of them in a relatively remote corner of the internet cafe. They made their way to the corner and sat down.

Lin Feng settled into his booth and started turning the computer on. While waiting for it to boot, he looked over at Tian Tian and said, “Oh! Right! You remember BunBun, right? I thought I’d bring her along today, but she had something important to do at home. She would’ve been here right now if she wasn’t busy!”

“BunBun!?” Tian Tian’s eyes widened into saucers. “ BunBun? An Xin? BunBun’s here too? You saw her today?”

Lin Feng nodded. “YEAH! BunBun! She transferred over to the school I’m at. Really recently! We’re even in the same class! And she’s on the esports team with me! She even helped coach our school’s team for the Shanghai 16 School Tournament. Wait! Before I forget, she told me to tell you that she said hi.”

“Wow? I haven’t seen BunBun in forever. I miss her so much!” Tian Tiang said.

Lin Feng waved his hand. “It’s fine, she’ll be here next time and we’ll all hang out!” Then he paused for a second and added, “… I’ll bring Tang Tang along too, so you can meet her!”

“Tang Tang?” Tian Tian asked with a look of confusion. “Who’s that?”

“Oh! She’s also a classmate. Same class as me and BunBun! And she’s a great ad-carry too! She was on the esports team with me at the 16 School Tournie! But listen! She’s going to be the ad-carry for our new team!” Lin Feng explained excitedly. 

Tian Tian was surprised. “A girl?” He asked. 

“Yeah!” Lin Feng replied.

Tian Tian was intrigued and curious to know more about this phenomenal female ad-carry that he’d never heard of before. “If you say she’s good, then she must be good. But I’ve never heard of a Tang Tang before. Or any new female ad-carries. There aren’t many girls who play that position well enough to be competitive. Is Tang Tang a nickname? What does she look like?” As far as he knew, BunBun was the only unknown female player in the competitive scene. And the best female player that he could recollect.

“What does she look like?” Lin Feng rubbed his chin. He racked his brains around this question, and answered, “Oh, she’s okay. About the same as BunBun!”

If the boys from High School 13 heard what Lin Feng had said right now, they would have joined together to beat him into a bulb. They would have ripped his arms and legs off and kicked him until he resembled a tulip bulb! It was almost incomprehensible! Lin Feng casually stating that two of the goddesses from their school were merely okay in his eyes! 

Lin Feng and Tian Tian had already opened their League clients and logged in. Lin Feng waved his hand and said, “Forget about that for now! We’ll play a few games first! We can talk about all this stuff later. We haven’t duo-queued together in years!”

2
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A Virtual Time Capsule

Shanks Thought: I think I need to go out on walks more. Clear my head. Get some fresh air. Honestly, I just need to get out more. I think my range of movement these past few weeks has been my own room in the dorm, the kitchen, and occasionally the building next door so I can do my laundry. Mostly, I’m sitting in front of my computer doing my schoolwork or working on Rise. And lately, the days are really starting to blend together for me. Which I find odd. We’re already a year into the pandemic, so why now?

Then, it’s even stranger to think that all of this will eventually pass, and that society will return to normal. Whatever that is. What will the new ‘normal’ be like? How different is it going to be compared to our pre-pandemic life? They’re not questions that I find myself asking that often. But they’re always at the back of my mind. Every now and then, I come to the realization that I’m living through history. Decades from now, people will be talking about this era I’m going through in history books in the classroom. Kids will be fascinated by the way we lived our lives, and how foreign it is from their current norm.

The future is unpredictable. I’m sure the past decade has taught us that plenty. A lot can happen. And most of the time, we rarely ever notice the change until much later, after the fact. Smartphones weren’t really a thing 15 years ago, and now they’re ubiquitous to daily life. We used to all have people hanging out at arcades, and now we don’t. As for more recently, remember how Vine was a thing and then suddenly it wasn’t?

So, I have an idea. Let’s follow up on this Chapter Thought a year from now. It’ll be a virtual time capsule. You can leave comments about anything you want. Maybe make some predictions. It can be about the world, the state of Rise, or any other random topic. Then we can check back in 2022 and react to them. Alright. I’ve already marked the date on my calendar. 

Side Note: If we started Rise back in 2015, we would’ve totally tried to become Vine stars through DumbFuckTV. And if you’re wondering why aren’t trying to become stars on TikTok, who says we aren’t? Somewhere out there on the internet, there’s a TikTok account with Devshard shaking his phat booty and practicing hard to K-pop videos.  

Dev Thought: I do not make TikTok videos. Nor will I. But I have been trying to talk Shanks into creating a B-Boy J Fire TikTok account. Mostly for the lulz.

As for my prediction for 2022? I’m just going to throw in a quote from Animal Farm and a quote from the Great Gatsby. 

“And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than other animals.” – Animal Farm

Shanks Addendum: Right! I should probably make some predictions too.

Going out in public while wearing a mask is going to be socially acceptable now, if not the norm. But we’ll still have a gang of Karens terrorizing people for still wearing them after the pandemic.

Microsoft is going to buy Sega, and Sonic is going to be owned by Microsoft. So, we’ll be getting Sonic in Halo and Minecraft.

Smart masks are going to be a new fashion trend, and Devshard is going to be at the bleeding edge of it.

Rise will blow up, and we’ll be collabing with big streamers and Riot!

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